The Schools Climate Protection Agreement parallels the US Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, but has been modified to cover the unique roles our schools have in shaping the future.
Bethlehem Area School District acts to protect environment and reduce global warming
On December 11, the board of the Bethlehem Area School District adopted a formal climate protection agreement—a pledge to take action to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions throughout the district. The agreement, adapted from the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, was prepared by the Alliance for Sustainable Communities and proposed to the Superintendent, Dr. Joseph Lewis, who recommended it to the Board. This is the sixth Climate Protection Agreement in the Lehigh Valley and, as far as we know, BASD is the first school district in the country to take such a step.
Under the Agreement, the district will conduct a GHG inventory and develop an action plan to reduce emissions. Since GHG emissions are closely tied to fuel and energy use, some typical actions would be to reduce driving, make buildings more energy-efficient, increase recycling, and work with others to increase awareness of global warming and how to reduce it. The action plan will be based on results of the GHG inventory, and the Alliance will work with the district to develop a detailed plan.
The school district will also explore ways to integrate awareness and analysis of global warming, alternative energy, and methods for greenhouse gas reduction into curriculum and activities at all levels.
Even before the district adopted the agreement, Freedom High School teacher Kellie Brady had started her students on this path. After seeing An Inconvenient Truth last summer, Brady felt an obligation to bring the film’s science and its message to her students. After doing their own research—which confirmed the message of the film—students developed a ‘Global Awareness Week’ and traveled to other schools to teach their findings to younger students.
The action by the school district follows the lead of the mayors of Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton, who signed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement on July 20, at a special showing of An Inconvenient Truth held at the 19th Street Theatre in Allentown. And, on October 15, the County Executives of Lehigh and Northampton Counties signed a similar agreement at Illick’s Mill in Bethlehem. Not only are they the first counties in PA to do so, we believe that this is the first time in the country that two counties and their major cities have pledged to make reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions a priority.
In related news, the City of Bethlehem is starting a comprehensive GHG inventory, based primarily on quantities of fuel and energy purchased by the city.
The Alliance continues to work with the cities and counties to facilitate action on the climate protection agreements and is currently approaching other municipalities and school districts throughout the Lehigh Valley and also will be working with area colleges and universities. .
For more information, send us an email or contact Peter Crownfield.